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England has today (Monday 19th July) moved to Step 4 of the Roadmap. This means the majority of Covid restrictions have now ended, replaced with guidance emphasising personal judgement and responsibility. People are expected to protect themselves and others through informed choice and move to Step 4 cautiously.
The Prime Minister has today called for all adults who have not yet received their first or second dose of the vaccine to come forward, to help protect themselves and others. All over 18s are now able to book a vaccine, and nearly 60% of under 25s have received at least one dose. Young adults can be key drivers of transmission and are urged to come forward for both doses.
Cases will continue to rise as set out from the start of the Roadmap, but the vaccination programme has substantially weakened the link between infection and hospitalisation or death. Data from PHE suggests that one dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is 80% effective against hospitalisations with the Delta variant, increasing to 96% after two doses.
The Prime Minister has emphasised the need to remain cautious as restrictions are lifted. The pandemic is not yet over and moving to step 4 is a balance of risks. Cases across the UK and Europe are increasing, and the threat of a new variant remains.
The move to Step 4 was delayed by 4 weeks so more adults could be vaccinated. Nearly 8 million vaccines have been administered during the delay. Over two thirds of all adults have received two doses and every adult has been offered a first dose.
The delay to Step 4 has also moved the end of restrictions closer to the school summer holidays. Lifting restrictions later in the year when the weather gets colder carries further risks as viruses tend to spread more easily in the winter months, and flu will be circulating.
The Prime Minister has set out a five point plan for living with Covid as restrictions are eased:
The vaccination programme and test, trace and isolate system continue to be the most effective way of reducing transmission, along with practicing good hygiene, keeping spaces well ventilated, and wearing a face covering in enclosed or crowded spaces.
All data will be kept under review, and the government will review the current guidance in September.